Anglican Eucharistic Theology 2

Report
Session 2
Anglican Eucharistic Theology
Some Philosophical Reflections - both secular and religious
The Problem of
Universals
A perennial problem in philosophy and highly relevant to any
study of Anglican eucharistic theology and sacramental
theology per se - particularly concerning signs and what and
how they signify
Concerns the relationship between particular signs or symbols
and whether or not they convey the reality they signify
Those who argue signs convey the signified reality are realists
and those who disagree are nominalists - both positions found
in throughout the AET - with realism dominating
The voices of the AET
Macquarrie and Temple as realists argue for a ‘sacramental
universe’ where signs are linked in a real way with what they
signify - signs of bread and wine linked in real way with
Christ’s body and blood - signs convey what they signify in a
real way in the present - e.g. real presence, anamnesis
Jensen and Zahl as nominalists argue that there is no real link
between the signs and what they signify and that signs
function only as named (hence nominalism) reminders or
pledges of Christ’s completed actions in the past
David Ford
Regius Professor of Divinity
at Cambridge
Argues that ‘the question of
how or whether one
maintains some sort of
realism ... is central to much
current theological debate’
(1992: 209).
Realism and Nominalism
This lecture is proposing that the philosophical notions of
realism and nominalism are useful for analysing the
assumptions underling AET
Both secular and religious philosophers contribute
This helps us to avoid the problems of hermeneutic idealism
and to acknowledge the multiformity of AET and work towards
a discourse that has integrity
A secular philosopher helps
Professor David Armstrong
(born 1926) was Challis
Professor of Philosophy at
Sydney University
His work helps to provide a
philosophical framework for
analysing the AET
Anglican scholars
complement this work
The Problem of
Universals
Armstrong argues that ‘the problem of universals is the problem of
how numerically different particulars can nonetheless be identical
in nature, all of the same type’ (1995: 41)
This is an ancient problem going back at least to Plato but taken
up as useful by many Christian theologians (e.g. Augustine,
Aquinas, Macquarrie, Williams)
Aquinas for example spoke of two different particulars having
same essence, property or substance - identical in nature,
although numerically distinct - led to transubstantiation
Reformation Swing
There was a swing against this realism in the Reformation era
Theologians adopted a more nominalist approach separating
sign and signified
Zwingli for example argued that ‘the sign and the thing signified
cannot be one and the same’ (On the Lord’s Supper, 188)
Sign could not in Zwingli’s view share the same essence,
substance or nature as the thing they signified - Cranmer
agreed but many other Anglicans have not
David Armstrong
Realist analysis argues that two different things or particulars can
be of the same type (essence, substance, nature)
‘Same’ needs very careful consideration
‘Same’ can mean ‘identical’ in a strict sense even though the two
things in a different place - e.g. bread becomes flesh - generally
rejected
‘Same can also mean a ‘loose’ identity such that the nature of the
signified is present in the sign - e.g. the nature of Christ is present
in the Eucharist and the elements - realism
Moderate and Immoderate Realism
Armstrong makes the useful distinction between ‘moderate’
and ‘immoderate’ realism
Moderate realism implies a sharing of nature, substance or
essence between sign and signified without sign and signified
being strictly identical
Immoderate realism implies a realism where sign and
signified have a strict identity
‘Miracle of Bolsena’
Raphael painted this picture
in 1512
It depicts a priest
celebrating the Eucharist
and realising that the bread
had become real human
flesh and the wine a cup of
real human blood
Immoderate realism
Immoderate Realism
Medieval art frequently
depicted immoderate realist
scenes
Christ’s physical, fleshy
body and blood on altar
This was a corruption Aquinas specifically rejects
this type of thinking and
opts for moderate realism
Moderate Realism
Signs become an instance of or instantiate the signified but
not in a fleshy manner - e.g. Aquinas and transubstantiation
and many Anglican theologians who speak of ‘real presence’
or ‘the sacramental principle’
Armstrong helps again by arguing that ‘it is an intelligible
possibility that there should be two particulars with exactly the
same nature’ (1995: 42)
Some Examples of
Moderate Realism in AET
The 39 Articles 1571
Article XXV describes sacraments as ‘effectual signs of grace’
whereby God ‘doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only
quicken, but also strengthen and confirm our Faith in him’
Article XXVIII: ‘The Body of Christ is given, taken and eaten,
in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner.
And the means whereby the Body of Christ is received and
eaten in the Supper is Faith’ - NB Body of Christ not given by
faith but present independently of faith
BCP Catechism 1604
Questions about sacraments added in 1604
Sacrament is ‘an outward and visible sign of an inward and
spiritual grace given unto us, ordained by Christ himself as a
means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us
thereof’ - both a means and a pledge
Eucharist ‘for continual remembrance of the sacrifice and death of
Christ, and of the benefits we receive thereby’
‘The Body and Blood of Christ, which are verily and indeed taken
and received by the faithful in the Lord’s Supper’
Lancelot Andrewes - 1555-1602
• ‘For Christ in the Sacrament
is not altogether unlike
Christ in the cratch [cradle].
To the cratch we may well
liken the husk or outward
symbols of it. Outwardly it
seems little worth, but it is
rich of contents, as was the
crib this day with Christ in it.
... Yet in them we find Christ
... which very food our signs
represent and present unto
us’ (Works, I, 35)
William Forbes - 15851634
Bishop of Edinburgh
‘In the supper, moreover, by the
wonderful power of the Holy
Ghost we invisibly communicate
with the substance of the body
[and blood] of Christ, of which we
are made partakers no otherwise
than if we visibly ate and drank
his flesh and blood’ (Forbes: II,
421)
Rowan Williams - Born 1950
• In Tokens of Trust says of
the words ‘This is my body’
and ‘This is my blood’ that
we should ‘hear it as Jesus
saying of the bread, ‘This
too is my body; this is as
much a carrier of my life
and my identity as my literal
flesh and blood’ (116)
Williams continues
‘The force of the Gospel text ... seems to be more to do with a
kind of extension of the reality of Jesus’ presence to the bread
and wine. They too bear and communicate the life of Jesus,
who and what he is. By eating these, the believer receives
what the literal flesh and blood have within them, the radiant
action and power of God the Son, the life that makes him who
he is’ (116)
The incarnation is an instantiation of this sort of realist
analysis
David Ford
In an important article
called ‘What happens in the
Eucharist?’ he argues for a
distinction between what he
calls ‘relational realism’ and
‘non-relational realism’
Relational = immoderate
Non-relational = moderate
David Ford
Puts a case for non-relational (moderate) realism where the bread
and wine instantiates Christ’s body and blood in the Eucharist as an
identity of nature (loose)
Denies a relational (immoderate) realism which would be fleshy or
carnal
Like Armstrong, Ford suggests that Christ’s nature is strictly identical
in both instantiations of bread/wine and body/blood but the
particulars are not strictly identical - even though both sets of
particulars instantiate same universal, that is the nature, essence or
substance of Christ
Not all agree!
Of course there are many within Christian and Anglican tradition
who do not agree with this analysis - e.g. nominalists
Sameness of type (e.g. associating bread/wine with body/body)
is in this analysis dependent on semantic and propositional
statements of naming in an enquiring mind
Catherine Pickstock calls this ‘a textual calculus of the real’
(1998: 3) where such a world depends on the enquiring mind
alone and is ‘disposed to treat words as capital’ (1998: 10)
The Role of Philosophy
Philosophy assists in theological reflection
This is so in areas such as sacramental theology and
eucharistic theology in particular
This certainly seems to be true for the AET
In our next lecture
We will explore some case studies of both realist and
nominalist analysis in the Anglican eucharistic tradition
Knowing that there are different philosophical assumptions
within the AET helps us to hear what people are saying and in
so doing gives the discourse more integrity
It promotes dialogue and helps to prevent the exclusiveness
of hermeneutic idealism while at the same time allowing us to
value our tradition, interests and commitments

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